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Oh Wait.....

Hello Skiers, Watch out boarders

Here we are at Crystal Mountain

It is very hard and frozen

And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops blowing.

We went down into a wind blast

And found lots of frozen groomers

We remembered warmer fun runs

They got delayed by that darn blasting east wind

All the lifts are slowed by strong wind

It’s blowing 60, now 70.

No need to turn, the wind it stops me

We need to try a option like Sluiceway

Sluiceway’s soft and there’s no wind

Berry Patch’s the place to be now

And Lower E is big soft moguls

The fun is starting, we’ve found a good run now

Oh wait the wind has closed Rex now

What to do - only option is FQ

Guess we’re skiing easy groomers

Not the day I wanted oh no

Magoo is boring, Downhill too

What’s a skier supposed to do

Looks like pizza and costly beer

Take me home I think I’m done with Forest Queen

Oh please don’t make me stay

I’ve skied more groomers than I need

Oh wait a minute, Six’s loading

Powder Bowl is not too bad.

Now Rex is open , wind had died

Frontside’s great forget my whining.

Sunnyside and Gully-Gully

Kept us in the focused fun zone

Great big bumps of perfect softness

Till we were all quite exhausted

Dearest skiers, bouncing boarders

What a fun day worth the waiting

Skiing soft snow in the sun

Please disregard morning whining.

Ken

Thanks to Allan Sherman who I butchered (not literally).

Wind Blasting Up Ugga Bugga

Wind Blasting Up Ugga Bugga

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Two Report Monday

First Report 8:45-10:30

Short and sweet - *$#@% East wind. Nothing but unskiable frozen crunch and very firm smooth groomers.

Second Report 10:30 till sundown (sundown, aka afternoon re-freeze at 2:30)

I knew we’ve started the spring cycle of frozen mornings and soft afternoon. BUT, did not expect 30-45mph east wind cancelling the planned-on early softening in the blazing sun. There was not a hint of a cloud in the sky all day. It took some dedicated searching, but at 10:30 I tried Valley-Sluiceway-Berry Patch-Lower E and was rewarded with the first to soften run of the day. 👍👍👍👍 Gully-Gully was next, other than some weirdness on the wind swept upper section. Back and forth was the plan until… Showtime and Sunny softened with a big if. Good if you stayed in the skied out line. Stray and you locked in the mush. The legs lasted later than normal (am I finally getting in shape?) as coasting down the morning’s groomers into a stiff you-don’t-need-to-turn headwind didn’t take much energy. So it was a soft spring bump fest alternating Sunnyside and the afore mentioned Valley backside T2B. A most excellent day was had by all until the lowering sun started the re-crunch about 2:30. From worried and unstoked to a full on 4-good-runs mountain day.

More east wind for the next couple days, but lighter? Maybe? Get it soon as by thursday it appears to be a downhill slide into cooler (no thaw?) and some light rain friday night. Watch the temps and be ready to go.

Ken

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Start the Cycle

Welcome to spring. I’d call today the third day of spring skiing and it definitely started the frozen morning to mushy afternoon cycle. There were a few pockets of soft fluffy stuff in the most hidden shaded areas (sorry we tore them up pretty good). Sun damaged aspects were sporting frozen lumps top over a hard bumpy base. So it was Valley Bowl and frozen-but-carvable groomers for awhile.

That changed mid morning as a slight softening allowed us to go do some skier grooming on the Frontside and Powder Bowl. Yesterday’s crew did NOT do their job to smooth and break up what this morning was very crunchy lumps over hard bumps. But skiing in the warm sun wasn’t so bad and we did our due diligence laying down some nice lines in less than perfect snow. There was a small crowd of families skiing the groomers. What’s wrong with parents these days not teaching the younguns to ski bumps. Also, not teaching them to not stop in blind spots below roll-overs or right in the middle of the run.

So, we left the groomers behind and focused on the continued softening snow. Gully Gully was the first, but as an afternoon tour found, quickly went to oversoft with the unconsolidated top coat. Oh, speaking of coats, they came off as base temps hit 50°. Soft and fluffies of the day were C-3 Chairline and Elk Snort. Valley Bowl got better and better and will be very crunchy tomorrow morning. Powder Bowl Main Chute - perfect styro-snow, below that needs some skiers. Bear Pits late was very soft and lower down was too soft and in need of some consolidation. Run of the day was Valley Bowl to C-3 Chairline to Sluiceway to Berry Patch, to Lower E. Lower E won mogul field of the day award - silky smooth and soft ( huge bumps).

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Guess that’s it. Kinda went into Blur Mode. Brought out of Blur Mode as the flats back to the chair got sticky. The upcoming cold nights of freezing followed by warm to hot days will fix that. We packed and consolidated some runs, it’s up to you to help out with the rest. Speaking of rest, taking a few days off - back monday when it will be hot. Frozen mornings and then go get it. And, that time of year when we do not need new snow as it will just add a layer of heavy slop that takes days to smooth and consolidate.

Ken

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Spring Induced

It’s spring skiing Crystal Style. Well, Spring Style #1. That’s where there is enough sun damage that most sun-facing aspects have a big-bump crunch layer under nice pow that turns to heavy mashed potatoes as the day wears on. AND, the northish facers have most excellent shin+ deep untracked pow that lasts into the afternoon. If you know where to look. We took a few forays onto the powder over icy bumps just to make sure we shouldn’t have. And then hit all our north facing and shaded areas keeping just ahead of the following crowd. Crowd is relative.

There weren’t very many takers on most runs. But it didn’t take many tracks to completely change an aspect or chute from floaty untracked to cut up lumps. Or, to take the pow and start a small slide that emptied the snow behind you. So the Crowd was only a few people looking for the deep. To float above the Frontside bumps took more speed than I was willing to put down as I thought about the next sharp mogul taking me out. But, Six opened and we took the last of the good lines in Campbell and then headed for Powder Bowl. Main Chute should be on the Fun Police’s list as the Fun-O-Meter® pegged. One run down Bear Pits had it’s moments, both good and bad, and there then wasn’t enough soft topping left to mitigate the huge bumps for a retry.

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Next was some smooth-n-deep as we took Elk Snort on the way to Employee Housing. Entering EH, all the tracks went one way, we went the other. 1600’ of deep untracked - need I say more? Northway beckoned and as long as you stayed in the shade it was great. Sphincterville was a hoot. Chairline Bumps were man eaters if you lost your line. Stay in it and the adrenaline flowed as only 8’ drops into icy troughs and airplane turns back into soft pow can supply. Bruce’s left, Bruce’s right… guess we got the goods. Another EH and I heard the dreaded words, “follow those guys”. Got in front and another soft untracked run.

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Sorry to say… Anything that got sun today turned to mashed potatoes. You could feel the snow packing hard underski. Groomers will recover nicely with overnight grooming. I’m hoping there’s a good crowd tomorrow to skier groom the off-piste. There’s a lot of good freezes thaw cycles coming up, but good corn will need some manicuring. By Sunday it’ll be hot (9Kft freezing levels) and I need you all to smooth and mix the snow for me.

Ken

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Fifty Fifty

About half the snow is great, about half is below mediocre. Once figured out, I stayed in the good (mostly) and had one of the best times of my year.

Funny how life works out. After weeks of walking up at 2:21 and being awake for hours, I finally got a good nights sleep - what happens at 2:21? Feeling good and diving into Green Valley, I knew it was going to be a good day. But, there’s always a but, Iceberg, Door 1, Outer Firk’s, and Bear Pits were sporting an amazing amount of sun damage under the cut pow. Quite skiable, although it took a close watch to avoid the sudden slams when a soft bump was hiding an extra hard core.

Running though the North Facers and Shady Sides proved they were awesome as expected. C3 Chairline - short but very sweet. Elk Snort - Untracked then smooth styrosnow. Mr Toad’s Wild Ride was a good as that swoopy run gets. Secret Spot somewhere on The Terminator was sooth untracked fun. I extended CD’s new Short North entry into some new very narrow, very steep knee deep new. Top honors. Employee Housing was chopped up cut pow bumps. Unless you know where to go and then it was soft pow almost to the bottom. I-5 was smooth and not much pushing unless you get stuck behind Team No Wax.

As the bright clear skis of morning succumbed to the incoming front, fog made visibility go away. We went to more trees. Then after a few misguided attempt at Door Last, Memorial, and LS Trees it was time to call it a declining vis day. Not that my legs were getting tired….. It was snowing hard and the limited vis made it too hard to tell the sun-melt crunch from the fluffy bump tops.

Not sure why I felt so good today. Hope I can repeat next time. Over the weekend, maybe the sunny weather will bring out enough of a crowd to mix the lumpy new with the crunchy underlying layer. If so, life will be good. If not, guess it will be up to the Amigos next week.

Ken

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Seek and You’ll Find

Bear with me. Today wasn’t about the best conditions, the best weather, or making the scene. It was about perseverance. We could have skied what was easy, ok snow, and left it at that. But we knew some good stuff was out there and with the forecast for a big sunny day (spoiler, didn’t happen) I expected some of the unsavory morning aspects to become great. So, the Two Amigos, for the good of mankind, did a wall-to-wall sampling. Almost wall-to-wall - we weren’t hiking for questionable goods.

In full sun I started with the proverbial opener Vally-Berg. A little firm in The Bowl and Iceberg was its normal morning parking lot smooth kinda carvable self. Meh, the only groomer out of the way for the day. Memorial proved the Frontside had a lot of sun damage from yesterday. Staying on the Big Side, dove into Bear Pits. Trying to figure out whether The Pits was soft, firm, or….. took my biggest fall of the year as one tip went into a soft bump only to be drastically stopped a couple feet further on by the next hard spot. I hate those one-ski high side falls. Accelerating and spinning, waiting for the impact, 20 vertical feet downhill, hit, crunching sounds, face first trying to stop. Shit, pole 50 feet up a 45° slope, ski slowly rolling down… Luckily the one other skier in BP came by and got my pole. 1,000 Karma Points and thanks.

So we quickly headed up C-6. Powder Bowl weirdly crunchy for being off the sun angle. Outer Ferk’s great if you skied very tight to the shade. And then, EH on the correct side was awesome. I-5 fast and easy. Now knowing the good aspect direction we repeated. And then the cloud, one cloud, covered the sun as we headed Northward. Unexpected breakable crunch in Horseshoe Chutes shade - now flat light shade. Last Pitch Chairline Bumps brought things back with tip-to-tail synchronized bump skiing, huge bumps, where I’m glad I know my ski bud so well and that he’s gonna make the must-make turn next to the trees so I don’t impale him - or me. Northway proved to be The Place as we danced down B-Bowl and B-Trees with… no one. There were only about 8 skiers in all of Northway. Repeat and then expand to Pucker’s Right except we got sucked into a secret powder place - wow. Came out at M-Chute for weird styrosnow and tired legs. Did it again coming out mid Brand X.

Too much fun, eyes glazing over, point me to…. Niagara. Hairball run of the day, weird snow, odd visibility, and demanded a bail-out to the good parts of EH. A couple Outer Ferk’s, (we shouldn’t have done a Door), more OF, and I was toasted. A couple odd jumps in the Jump Park (nicely done new Crystal owners) and it was a wrap. Perseverance paid off in some great runs and shared-with-a-bud odd snow runs. You know you’re getting in the groove when weird snow is bad and fun at the same time. And it was good to get out of the comfort zone, aka Niagara, and get nervous.

Did you know we went the month of February without a freezing level over 1,000 feet? It looks like the trend continues for the foreseeable future. Everything will improve with skier grooming as zero new snow is also in the plan. The next sunny days will soften and then ice up everything in its path. Shady aspects will respond nicely to more skiing. Sorry, we took the last of the untracked snow.

Ski ya soon,

Ken

Whew

After felling how sore I was after yesterday’s fun, I was worried that skiing 2 days in a row - third day in 4 - would not feel good. The first 5-6 runs confirmed that I’m not yet in ski shape after my chore filled december and january. (For those who care - Just sold our old house and after 2 days of paperwork next week, it will be off my worry list. Don’t believe the media, for a good home in a desirable neighborhood, the Seattle housing market is doing just fine) After blasting Valley Bowl yesterday, this morning I was a rolling dog turd with legs on fire. That is, if turds had legs. I was hoping to make it to 10 o’clock.

Luckily, I have patient ski buds who put up with my frequent stops. As we pushed the boundaries via Exterminator, E-Housing, and Outer Ferk’s, I was pleasantly surprised the each run hurt less and less. Guess my legs figured I was serious about the day and just gave up sending pain and kicked in some extra energy. Thankfully, I was able to add another Employee Housing, lots of Outer Ferk’s, some Elk-Snort pow into Mr. Toad’s Wild Bump Ride, C-3 Chairline, and have some big fun.

Oddly enough, for a day that start feeling weak, stiff, and sore. I got stronger each run. The weather started on the weak side as well with poor vis and light snow. As my attitude improved, so did the weather with some almost sun that improved the visibility and added to our groups energy. Until Noon. The next storm announced it’s arrival with spreading fog, increasing snow, and stiffening cold winds. Did I say “stronger each run”? Well, right up to the last, and best run down Outer Ferk’s. Stopped and I was toasted. Grabbed the packs and headed for home in a thickening snow all the way to Mud Mountain Dam.

Whew, working through the mornin pain was well worth it. Prepare for some weekend dumps and I’ll see you after signing papers and moving of the last….. stuff.

Ken

I Can See!

What a difference visibility makes. With clear blue skies and a cold 12°, we didn’t mind missing some powder yesterday as the snow was in great shape. Rather than responding to what I hit in the fog, I could look 3 turns down the mountain and plan a route. Much more fun.

Most runs were packed powder bumps with cut powder and other kinds of loose snow strewn about. Valley Bow was a blast for the “warm ups”. Lower Memorial - a little rugged underneath showed I wasn’t really warmed up. Determined to ski some steep, soft bumps, and lines that were invisible in the last day’s fog, we took any run-in-the-sun that wasn’t a groomer. In fact, never skied a groomed run (other that the must-do runout to get back to Rex). The normal Fronsiders were first on the menu. Door Zero, Door One, Showtime, Sunnyside challenged the legs and satisfied the brain. We’d committed ourselves to an early Exterminator and Employee Housing. Both delivered that shot of adrenalin, responding to power and a little finesse. Unfortunately I’ve had too many interruptions in my ski days and the ole legs, while working great for awhile, would need a short rest every once-in-s while to make sure adrenaline didn’t overcome power. A minute in screen saver mode and I was good to go again. EH won honors as usual and I-5 was fast and didn’t require pushing till the bottom of Chair 1 (RIP C-1).

Front to Back - Steep, Steeper, Steepest

Front to Back - Steep, Steeper, Steepest

And so it went. Bear Pits, a trip to Six (Campbell Basin just OK, PBowl great), another EH, some Valley Bowl to C-3 Chairline had some of the best snow. And Then…. Banana Chute. Some nice snow on the entry, but you know Banana always has a hairball story to add. (just turned on The Tunes - Dream On came up, fitting) So, CD has his line set, dive in, soft snow, edges lock and up the other side he goes. And then pull off the best back roll onto skis with an I’m Good and nails the rest. OK. Learning from others is something I always try to do. Step down a little eyeing the hard right turn that must be made. Oops, breaking through the cornice, grabbing the one lone tree for stability as the bottom dropped out. With no platform to stand on, I followed CD’s line - without the superb back roll. And a fun time was had by all.

Sluiceway showed that there was some sun damage going on, Berry Patch it’s usual hoot, and Lower E a usual fest of big bumps that are always smooth. Ended a big day in a leg-sore way. The only thing that gets you in ski shape is skiing. Did my part today. Although the weather is deteriorating tomorrow and new snow will be late in the day, I hope the overnight bod recovery goes as planned and I’ll be up tomorrow

Ken

Fog.....

Sometimes, it’s hard to see that you NEED to go skiing. Like when there’s a ton of life issues that need to be taken care of, I forget that skiing is the great stress reliever, good for your health both physically and mentally, and although non-skiers don’t get it, something your brain needs. The motivation is tough for me to go solo. One of the life events the last week was Amigoette having foot surgery nipping the rest of her ski season and hopefully ending her pain, once rehab is over, of a recalcitrant foot bone. Said bone is now resting in the hospital medical waste bin - good riddance.

So I popped onto the New Short Commute this morning only to be greeted by a very large piece of earth moving equipment heading flatbed bound up 410 at 20 mph. When they finally pulled off, likely to do some clear cut logging road improvement, the rest of my unaffiliated Crystal commuters couldn’t find the GO pedal and took the next 20 miles to get up to speed. I almost made it to first chair…

Into the Mist

Into the Mist

But…. It was still hard to see that I needed to ski - literally. A thick, no very thick, fog obscured everything above 5,5,00’. Even Memorial’s trees weren’t enough to shed visibility. Doors One, Two, and 3.5 had a little vis. Even Door Three was too wide for the trees to improve my vision. The snow was nice packed powder interspersed with some styrosnow and pockets of loose fluff. BUT, a 3-day weekend of people in over their heads in thick fog had claimed the whole Frontside with continuous traverse lines. Made for a very choppy ride when you could see. And when you couldn’t.

View of Powder Bowl

View of Powder Bowl

Oh well, maybe Bear Pits. After a blind traverse, Bear Pits was steep enough, narrow enough, and treed enough that the hordes either stayed away or were locked out of traversing. Wohoo! So, I alternated Bear Pits and Outer Ferk’s for the rest of the day. I wanted to head north, maybe Exterminator, maybe Northway…. The fog actually grew thicker by the hour so I stuck to the snow and vis of BP and OF.

Never a lift wait, it was fly into the rope area at 20mph and right onto the next chair. Only rode with one other person all day, another Bear Pitter. Only saw a few other off-pisters, no other repeaters. Most of the crowd was families with youngsters out of school for the week. By late morning, they were all getting pizza and beer - the adults that is. Kids seem to be more into fries and coke.

So, I counted the Rex rides till I got to 15 and the fog got foggier, the weather got snowier, and the brain got lonelier. I’d done what needed to be done, turn the week’s stress into concentration on steep soft bumps, shove the worries aside so you don’t dig a tip or hit a tree, and for me anyway, use a large shot of adrenaline to calm the soul. A very quick drive home didn’t hurt either.

Ken

POW!

I was marginally excited to go today. Reports of wind-scoured ice sunday and only 4-5 “ new were blown away by the 10” new reported this morning. And speaking of blown away, those in the know knew where all the snow that was on the ice went. Game on.

Three warm up laps on Memorial found excellent snow, but over a hard icy base. Hitting bottom a lot, I wished I had enough of a ski brain to this morning to throw the wider boards in the car. Then I realized my Aftershocks used to be my wide ski. Compensating with speed gave me the float I needed to start having fun.

Trying to stay one step ahead of the powder seekers I took an early trip to Exterminator. Hide and seek with yesterday’s wind blown away snow was over. Deeper and softer underneath and taking last year’s newly found stash area gave me mostly untracked to Lower E.

Then the Northway light turned green and….. It’s gotten harder and harder to keep ahead of the crowd. Best advice - when tracks head left, or right, or straight ahead, take the other route and see what you find. I found my normal haunts deep and untracked. Northway snow was deeper and over a very skiable crunch. The crunch didn’t matter much, the new-plus-blown-in was deep enough I rarely hit bottom. Being sneaky, making sure no one was watching, I took my lefts, rights, and straights through my favorite line - linking bowls, trees, chutes, and bumps (OK, the bumps are the bottom Chairline bumps). It took me 5 laps to track it up. With no lift line it was ski right onto the chair for the next lap. But the hordes were coming north losing skis in the pow, getting stuck, falling down, and hooting in the now tracked powder. So, a good time was had by all.

Bliss on the other side of the rollover. Entry to Sphincterville

Bliss on the other side of the rollover. Entry to Sphincterville

And then Employee Housing iced the pow-cake. The new snow made I-5 a little slow, but not as slow and the snowboarders post holing back.

The drive up was snow the whole way. Unfortunately there were some drivers that missed snow-driving class and thought the best plan was to just go slow, really slow. And never pull over to let the mile of cars behind you go by. The passing lane hadn’t been plowed so the Turboru got it’s own face shoots as puffs of snow would billow over the hood. Luckily got by everyone before The Boulevard. A huge pack of cars came up behind, getting stuck, slipping around, and not knowing where to park. Hmmm. Sounds like the late arrivers to Northway.

Snow all the way down to The Claw were it was raining with no snow on the road. It’ll be a nice sheet of black ice tomorrow. Even more snow on the way tonight and tomorrow. Oh, based on the number of people digging for skis, powder cords would be a good idea.

Ken

What you get

I had very low hopes for today. With temps at 7 degrees this morning I bundled up expecting to rattle down some icy groomers for a few hours and head home. It was a cold and horizon to horizon to horizon to horizon clear morning. The snow was firm, but a Valley Bowl showed some promise of maybe some north-facing fun. Iceberg was kinda capable and showed the promise of overly fast skidding fun. Well, maybe fun. WIth freezing faces and noses, we completed the first round of runs enjoying unexpected bundled-up warm and glad the wind was from the west.

With no rhyme or reason, some north facing aspects were slightly rugged packed pow with some light stuff on top with only the occasional hit of skidded ice. Some were wind-crust, rain-crust, and gnarly shaped moguls of doom. In the good category were Valley Bowl, Upper Powder Bowl, Paradise Bowl, Bruces Bowl, Snorting Elk Bowl, and… Guess The Bowls win. On the hard kinda-carvable groomer end of the scale were Iceberg, Luckyshot, Lower Valley, Lower Bull Run. And we found some one-run-and-out stay-away zones - Bear Pits, Grubstake, Frontside, Northway Chairline Bumps.

A little skier grooming would have improved a lot of places - I wasn’t the one to spend my day smoothing out the chunks for tomorrow. By mid-day, it had warmed enough, 12°, to not freeze my face off on the tucks - which was nice. Knowing it was a day and forecast where you would have to just make the best of it, I was pleasantly surprised. Glad I listened to my ski buds and took a chance.

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Continued cold, very cold, for the next few days, at least. Light moisture, maybe a little more at Crystal. Deteriorating weather will not be good as the visibility suffers and limits the options.

Ken

Frontside!

Nothing beats a spring day in january. 52°, WTF. After hitting the cycle exactly wrong the last couple times, I finally nailed.

If you’re reading this for conditions report for the next few days, spoiler alert, it will suck, capital S, Suck.

I got the last day of this weird warm pattern and today was the warmest. Fooled by the cold east wind before, I was a little worried by the forecast. Happily, it was warm from the get-go with soft groomers for the first run. Valley Bowl was hard, but seek out the middle line, and stay there, and it was quite skiable. AND THEN, the Frontside went off. Started with Gully-Gully, then Sunnyside, Breakover, Breakover Gully, and Showtime. Took off the coat, heavy gloves, at 10:00. Sunglasses required.

It was a mental game. Unfortunately, the rest of the ski gang was offline today and I was on my own. There’s been a lot of entries on the Snowind calendar the last 3 months and my brain has been more into Do Lists and .... other things than looking for a fast smooth line down a steep mogul face. The moguls were big, firm, and didn’t move. But, there was a nice 3-4 inches of soft slush on top for your downhill pleasure. Might have just been my pleasure as there weren’t many takers on the Frontside, and fewer repeaters. I loved it. After the first few runs, the need to focus on grabbing the next gravity-slowing bump, keep in the zipper line, and suck up the next mogul face cleansed the mind of interfering thoughts and let the skis run free. It was all good and The Zone felt great.

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The future looks grim. Everything that got sun or was out of the wind turned to slush today. The rest was an icy mess. Tomorrow’s warm temps and precip translate to light rain and the dropping temps late friday mean nasty ice and frozen coral heads off piste. Groomers will be ice rinks. It will take a lot of new snow to erase the effects of this week of warm weather. Maybe see you in a week?

Ken

No Heat

I wanted to believe the most optimistic of the weather forecasts that today would be mild winds and warm. Although the weather was beautiful for sight seeing, it was not what the snow needed. Temps had dropped overnight and everything was a frozen wasteland, or an ice rink. A moderate east wind and slight haze over the sun kept it that way. A few groomers were mildly carvable for awhile, but even the very small group of participants quickly scoured it down.

So, we raced/skidded/rattled down the few groomers for awhile. There was one small section of Green Valley in the shade that was loose enough to be fun. Mostly, cold with loud scrapping sounds. I thought the one area, out of the wind and low on the mountain where it was warmer, would be worth a try. Sluiceway and Berry Patch were horrible. Lower E unsociable frozen moguls. That did in Amigoette’s sore foot and uninspired my less than enthused mindset for icy groomers and we called it a day.

If the heat comes back tomorrow as forecasted and the wind stays light, it should be a completely different mountain. Only snow of lots of sun fixes this kinds of snow.

Ken

New Commute

A day late on the report ‘cause conditions didn’t matter with today’s rain event kicking in.

Amigoette and I have finally moved into the new Snowind North location (north compared to the Summer Playground) One of the reasons for moving was to be closer to Crystal Mountain. I now have a much nicer, 35 minute shorter each way ski drive. And now that remodeling, talking to banks, moving furniture, hucking boxes is over, we can actually take advantage of the shorter commute and go skiing.

After spending the last 3 months in constant motion working down the Do-List, it took awhile to get my head back in the ski game. I didn’t forget any equipment which was my first worry. The legs felt OK. I guess hauling boxes up and down stairs is a pretty good ski workout. Averaged 5-6 miles and 40 flights of stairs a day over a week of loading and unloading trucks. What I lacked was mental focus. Thoughts of the choir list kept intruding. The snow was pretty funky. Soft and heavy in places. Almost slushy feeling just before an icy patch. And ruts that were now firmer than when people laid them down. I found ducking into steeper and narrower terrain brought things in focus as I rattled through the ruts. It only took a couple near high-side edge catches to jog my brain back into the ski routines. Pretty soon I found I’d smoothed some nice lines down Memorial, Bear Pits, and Valley Bowl. Groomers were smooth and carved nicely, but easy enough my mind would wander.

Freezing goggle-fog up top, poor visibility, and deteriorating weather drove me off the slopes. I’d done what needed to be done - got back in ski mode. I had to spin a celebratory doughnut in the empty F-Lot on the way down. Crystal should add a rally car course.

Rain today almost to the top. Lowering temps tonight and sun for the next days. Not sure how it will pan out. I’ll be back soon and hopefully often

Ken

Take What You Can Get

After a stressful week of hour-long drives to sign papers, life finally paused long enough for Amigoette and I to grab a quick trip to the mountain. With clear morning skies and a forecast of a sunny day, we thought we had lucked out with a beautiful day to grab the holiday crowd’s leftovers. Not so fast said god as he rolled back the weather into one of the weirdest dark cloud patterns I’ve seen.

The New Year’s Day crowd musta really partied for New Year’ Eve as the slopes (and drive up) was barely inhabited for our morning runs. But later…… What we thought would be a sunny day looked like a really bad bruise. Deep, dark blue/black and cold. We couldn’t read the Frontside snow from the chair, so opted for a Valley-Berg starter. Nice packed pow bumps in the Valley led to a smooth, firm, but carvable Iceberg. Each turn wiped the carvable stuff off The Berg exposing the ever popular rain-ice Iceberg is known for. There was a fine line between smooth packed pow bumps and crispy not-skied-enough junk. We learned that lesson on Memorial. Luckyshot remained fast and carvable till late morning as the party night crowd finally arrived to clog up its skidded crust.

Actually, this is a color image

Actually, this is a color image

Valley Bowl delivered all day on the north facing bumps. Grubstake was a hoot and was the only run that really got the blood pumping. C-3 Chairline remained soft and malleable to a firmly controlled ski. One T2B out The Gap alternated soft packed-powder bumps - Green Valley, crunchy lumps - Sluiceway, soft bumps - Berry Patch, smooth very icy bumps - Lower E. So, Valley Bowl, C-3 Chairline, Grubstake, interspersed with some who-know-where-they’re-going bogey dodging on Luckyshot.

After dawn to dusk prep days for buying a new house, remodeling the old, and paperwork, we knew today would be a short interlude. Although, with nobody on the hill and 10 minute Rex round trips, we did pile in some runs in our short window. By late morning the hordes had arrived and the lodges were packed. As we drove away, there was a line of cars looking for parking spots and a thousand cars coming up 410 for a… What? 2:00 ski start? A tourist Gondola ride into the black fog? Who are these people?

The Moral of the Story -

When life gets busy, take every opportunity to get some fun, some exercise, and some focused steep, mind-altering snow. Sometimes the details can wait, sometimes they can’t and you need to take care of business, but sometimes they can. Getting out into the mountains, even in weirdly dark bruised skies, was a refreshing mind cleansing. Get it when you can and take what you get. It’ll be good for your brain.

Unfortunately, snow levels rise tomorrow as precipitation moves in thursday. Timing will tell whether it’s rain up the mountain or a big wet dump of base-building snow. Keep an eye on the weather, timing, and the january weekend crowds.

Ken

Eve Special

Christmas came a day early. The first surprise was clear sunny skies. Under my favorite blue, the snow was soft cut boot-top powder over a surprisingly easy skiing foot of crunch leftovers. Frost the whole mountain with 4” of new and it skied about 100 times better than it looked.

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Our first turns were flying onto Sunnyside, living up to its name, where the turns were so easy no slowing down required. The Doors, Memorial, and Breakover the same. After a long summer and a self-imposed late start to the winter season, it felt wonderful to be in the groove. Steep, soft, go-for-it snow. Legs that where at full power (for now), and of course, full on sun never hurts.

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Powder Main Chute was untracked onto deep pillows of cut new. The rock lined edges made the early-season narrowness extra exciting. The payback for precision was huge grins that lasted to the bottom of Bear Pits. I had heard good things about Employee Housing. They weren’t lying. Soft and fluffy up high, packed pow in the middle, no heaviness down low. Only a smattering of spindly bush tops at the bottom. I5 was I5ish… I’ve skied it when it was worse. Top of Chair 6 is very rocky. Sideslippers exposed most of the entries. 

Bummer of the day was a 30 minute ride up Rex which included a 25 minute stop. As we sat, a cool fog started blowing in from the east filtering the sun. Thinking Luckyshot would loosen the stiff, cold joints from the long sit was wrong. After all the steep soft runs, it just felt firm, skidded, and…. it was time to go.

The groomed snow was packing and firming. The cats will freshen it tonight some. The off-piste was skiing out, but will be some nice packed pow for awhile. Santa will be a day late, not bringing new snow till wednesday.

Ken

Finally

Wondering where I’ve been? Me too. It’s been a hectic time of remodeling to sell our house, banks, builders, and of course, christmas. Long story very short, today was my opening day skiing. And a good day it was.

It’s been like have a “real” job again and made me wonder, the annual wonder, if I was up to the ski-task, questioning my mental and physical abilities to do this sport. This unplanned late entry into the ski season worked out great. Best coverage and conditions for a first day in memory. Thanks to all that came up when only the bunny hill (do they still call it that) was open. And those that dinged rocks and weird snow till all, almost all, the chair where opened. My first run of the year was untracked new snow down Sunnyside. Yes, I can do this.

I took my rock skis, rock coat, rock helmet, rock pants, and rock long underwear. Mostly to go old school as only one slight rock hit - no damage - entering Powder Bowl was it. The snow was nice where untracked, a little chunky when slightly tracked out, and then nice again when more tracked out. You could definitely feel the heaviness below 6K feet and from Rex down it packed very firm by days end. Best runs of the day were Grubstake, Valley Bowl, and Powder Bowl. Although the line on Chair 6, the official new name now, deterred us from a second PB run.

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With the storm coming in tomorrow everything will change. The snow level looks to rise putting down some significant base building snow up high, some ice producing rain down low. Take your chances on friday, I hope to. Disclaimer - evaluate the snow level thursday as the huge snow level drop friday may just bring icy weirdness.

More in depth reporting upcoming.

Ken

Spring?

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It looks like we may have skied the last day of spring. Finally, a sunny, warm day to soften the snow. Unfortunately, yesterday’s heavy pow day meant off-piste went quickly from frozen junk to chunky glop. But not before we perfectly timed a few Frontside blast in surprisingly skiable weirdness. Until…. Showtime went over to the Dark Side of thick, unconsolidated gunk.

In the morning ice, we searched for smooth grooming. Not to be found up high as Iceberg and Luckyshot had not been groomed. Forest Queen was smoothly groomed and softening early in a lower altitude, low slope angle way. In a Crystal Mountain saving money kinda way, the Campbell Lodge was closed up tight - even the bathrooms. So, after a couple fast low excitement runs, we went back up top.

Got a few Valley Bowl runs in during the Goldilocks soft period (it got weird thereafter) as the now full-on sun made us dump our coats, vests, gloves, goggles, and don Hawaii shirt that has not got much play time this year. We then found out where the groomers had been. Snorting Elk Bowl, Sluiceway, Berry Patch, and re-building the Kelly’s Gap Road after Rockface’s coating of wet new snow slide massively. And we found, again, the savior Run-of-the-day.

Soft and carvable, we turned the smooth grooming into ditches and bumps. Lower E was, again, the high point for the big soft mogul crowd. “The Crowd” was 3 of us. Over and over. The same crowd that was on the Frontside earlier. Where was everyone? Iceberg it turned out. The Berg was soft, in between ice patches, and like a game of Frogger dodging scared left/right skiers as we tried to go down. It’s called Downhill Skiing….  Back to Our Run (no claims of ownership involved), we ran out the day.

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This will likely end my ski season, a great ending it will be, as the next 7-day forecast doesn’t look good. I’m hanging it up. Amigoette and I are packing for a month of hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and snorkeling in Peru, Galapagos, and Ecuador. 

Kkz

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Forecast

The next 7 days are forecast to be warm and wet. If it cools off, Crystal will be ugly frozen junk. If it stays warm, rain. Maybe next week some dryer, soft days will happen. New snow will not be your friend and just turn to wet glob like today. Rain may smooth things out and consolidate the junky off-piste. Grab the next warmish sunny day and pretend it’s spring.

Rat Wheel

Rats don’t run in their wheel because they think it’s fun. They do it because that’s all that’s available in their cage. We were caged in by horrible frozen junk off-piste and hard icy groomers in every direction. After some quick poking around we found all the groomers: Iceberg, Luckyshot, Downhill, were hard ice covered in acres of ice balls. Ice so hard, the groomers didn’t even leave a mark on Iceberg (Not So Lucky Shot wasn’t groomed). It only took one ski length off the groomed to cross off any hope of skiing off piste.

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Full on sun and blue sky on our first upload gave, falsely, promise of maybe some Frontside softening we could beat into skiable submission. Not to happen, however, as a high haze and an unfortunate cloud blocked the sun and put us in no-softening mode. Our first lucky run call was a very IcyBerg to Lower Bull Run. Lower Bull was one of only two runs that softened. A couple low level runs down Bull got the ski ball rolling (that doesn’t even make sense…. ) and oddly, the next-door ungroomed Deerfly was horrible crunch. Then we decided to get on the wheel in the corner of our rat cage as it’s proven to be a good spin when the conditions are dicey.

We dove into Snorting Elk Bowl, it had been groomed, and the part that everyone wasn’t skiing, was 2” of softness for our carving pleasure over the firm base. Sluiceway was the skidded ice we left on thursday, but skiable. Berry Patch had the one line we’d smoothed out before - and one was all we needed. Lower E was the second of today’s Soft-Run awards. Huge nicely shaped bumps soft enough to go full on old-school bump skiing. Fun enough that we exited the rat wheel and rode up for another.

Run of the day

Run of the day

At noon, we grabbed our packs and were ready to head for home, as it was obvious that nothing was going to get softer. That did the trick and the sun came back out. Berry Patch was just soft enough to get us off the one line we’d been skiing, and Lower E went off. We re-stashed the packs and kept going. They added a bunch of slalom gates, maybe people frozen in place scared of the ice, on S-Elk Bowl. Sluiceway softened enough to get into the bumps and off the ice-line. Berry Patch loosened just enough to match Amigoette’s fast line without jittering my back to complaining. Lower E became more of a hoot. An hour and a half later, after our 13th Top-to-Bottom, we called it good and stepped off the rat wheel and exited the cage. What had started as mundane T2B cycles ended with two wide smiles. More people need to learn how to ski bumps, big bumps.

Kkz

Forecast

Bad news. No dry warm weather for…… awhile. The cool down will not be pleasant for the next couple days, maybe a week. There might be a few inches of new snow by monday, but feet are needed to cover the frozen junk. There’s a lot of NWS “models disagree” going on so it’s a day-to-day check in. Only sunny and warm will work.  

One Trick

Lucky I had some good Ski Amigos today. One, I could follow them and get a slight idea of what I was approaching in some of the worst fog ever skied. Two, they made me not want to be the one who gives up and goes home, so I stayed for the 3 hours it took for the weather to clear enough to find that one good run.

Horribly foggy from midway up, it was a gray day. Gray as in pitch fucking gray. Gray as in I can’t see the edge of the cat track. Gray as in I’ve haven’t seen so many spots in my vision before. Gray as in was that ice, or did my ski fall off. Gray as in Auntie Em, there’s no place like home. Ever wonder on the way down if infrared night vision goggles worked for skiing? I could probably get some on eBay. Was that a person or a tree? Where am I? I’ll ask my buds what run we just skied, maybe they know.

From the start, it was obvious that anything off piste was a no-go danger zone of frozen breakable crust and frozen junk. (spoiler, later some of it turned into thick, gloppy mashed potatoey…. stuff.) But, maybe I make it sound worse than it was. We did have some fun trying to figure out which way the runs went and where the edge of the grooming was, and when it was safe to “tuck it” for the bottom (actually no tucking involved - usually just point in the direction you thought the lift was and hope). Since the fog was up-side-down and clearer air was on the lower mountain, we skied Lower Bull, Deerfly, and CMAC more times than in recent memory. Or long term memory.

Approaching noon, wait…. It’s a little brighter. Hey, I can see Iceberg - that’s what it looks like?. Pretty hard snow. Then….. Let’s try Snorting Elk-Sluiceway-BerryPatch-Lower E. Random clearing, some sun, quickly softened snow, and Run Of The Day. No Gondola line made for a quick return. Finally someplace that supported aggressive skiing. Two hours of late-in-the-day T2Bs saved the day. And my sanity. Especially Lower E’s bump run. Best of a weird day. Best ski buds for keeping the dream alive. Wohooo?

Kkz

PS - went with the best intentions of getting some pictures today. Picture a gray wall. There, that’s it.

Forecast

There’s gonna be warmth, cooling, rain, light snow, clouds, sun, and maybe Sharknado. That last one’s unlikely, but the rest will happen and no one seems to know when, where, or why. Look the night before, get up early, and take your chances. The perfect plan would be for some light rain over a day, a solid freeze, or two, and some sunny days. New snow will not be our friend right now.